We’ve been going through the book of 1 John for the last several weeks at our church. It’s been both a blessing and a near-constant challenge. A blessing because there is so much good news in this epistle—some of the most striking words I’ve read in Scripture are here, including:
- “Little children, let us not love in word or speech, but in action and in truth” (1 John 3:18).
- “The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 John 4:8).
- “We love because he first loved us” (4:19).
- “This is how we know that we love God’s children: when we love God and obey his commands” (1 John 5:2).
- “For this is what love for God is: to keep his commands. And his commands are not a burden” (1 John 5:3).
Challenging because these same words give us a much deeper picture of love than the world does. We typically think of love as a feeling, as affection (which it is). But John goes beyond that and shows us that love has legs. And it inevitably expresses itself in obedience to God’s commands.
That is what it means to love.
Every so often there’s some hubbub that follows a pastor being on a TV show. Often what happens is this: the pastor is asked a few softball questions, or some that are easy wins. But inevitably, the “gotcha” questions come out—questions about hot topics like homosexuality and abortion. The ones that are there to remind the audience that you’re not like them.
A megachurch pastor from New York was hit with these recently. John MacArthur has been asked multiple times. Ditto Russell Moore, and Albert Mohler, and countless others. Even Joel Osteen’s been hammered with them.[1. I’m not picking on Osteen by mentioning him here, nor anyone else named or alluded to for that matter.]
And then there’s the rest of us, the people who don’t appear on TV. We’re not exempt from the gotcha questions just because we don’t have the kind of influence that puts us in those situations. We get them from our family members. We get them from friends. We get them from coworkers.
And in every instance, in the same way that pastors and Christian leaders who are challenged with the gotchas must, we must make a choice: we can tell the truth, hopefully in a gracious and respectful way. Or we can try to dance around the issue. But whether we’re on TV or in a coffee shop, dancing doesn’t work. So let’s not do that. The most loving thing we can do for people far from God, especially if our goal is to lead them to Christ, is to tell the truth.